Use of Force is an exciting new female twist on a popular genre. Shocking, galvanising, and at times darkly funny.
U Use of Force is the story of a young woman on the front line of crime, violence and dysfunction on the hard streets of western Sydney during the brutal Royal Commission into police corruption. Based on a true story, it is a confronting insight into the violence, intimidation and lawlessness of the brotherhood under siege. Where the daily risks of violent offenders at the epicentre of Australian criminal activity were nothing compared to the dangers lurking within the organisation. A story of law enforcement officers routinely breaking the law to maintain the power and authority of the brotherhood. A fight for truth, integrity and change that went all the way to the Supreme Court.
The woman at the centre of this story will remain anonymous for her safety, and for the safety of her family. Her character name is ‘Brigid’.
“Meeting ‘Brigid’ in 2018 was a revelation. I had wanted to get an ex-cop to help me with research on another project but when I met Brigid, and heard a little of her story, I was hooked. It opened up the fascinating and shocking world of true crime, but more importantly it was a woman who had been to hell and back and was prepared to crack open the brotherhood.”
From the outset, Sarah’s ambition was to break out of the shackles of the linear story of Brigid’s 15 year policing career. Elevating the project by scripting a contemporary, fast paced, cinematic series where past and present collide.
“Authenticity is everything to me. And here I had the essence of a cinematic story that could be elevated to examine universal themes.”
Finding the right production partner for Use of Force will come down to a shared vision of the cinematic story. And an understanding of the importance of agency for the women involved in this project.
“From 1915 until the 1980’s the NSW police force had a gender quota. Limiting women to a maximum 3% of the police force.”
When the quota system was eventually relaxed in the 80’s, the rank through tenure system remained in place until the late 90’s ensuring it would be decades before women were able to rise to positions of power. 15 years service would automatically endow even the most average male police officer the rank of sergeant at that time. And it kept women out of the ranks for the remainder of the 20th century.
“‘Brigid entered the police academy in May 1994, the day after parliament called for a Royal Commission into police corruption. At that time, the force’s hierarchy was overwhelmingly male, white and old. Riddled with corruption it was also very dangerous.”
The command and control structure of the force meant that new recruits had to do what they were told to do without question. The leadership knew how to corrupt young men. Women were an unwelcome complication.
“In the early 90’s there were 13,000 serving NSW police officers and only 10 women were ranked above Sergeant.”
Motherhood meets brotherhood in a two season limited series arc
The strengths of this story, and Sarah’s telling of it, is the female perspective. This is not a standard police procedural. Nor is it a retelling of the story of the key players of the NSW Royal Commission into Police Corruption of the 90s. The real crimes are not where we expect them. Nor are the heroes. This story gives us a unique insight into the nature of corruption – the collusion, the intimidation and the vulnerabilities that enable it – as well as the female perspective on the trauma suffered by both men and women working in that toxic, hierarchical, male dominated workplace.
Hatherley’s first limited crime series, Use of Force, is attracting strong market interest within Australia. It is currently a finalist in 2019 Final Draft Big Break International Screenwriting competition.